3 out of 5 stars
Cut to the Chase:
This has what seems to be a normal formula for Quick. We have a reckless, impulsive heroine who’s fearless (but can also be a tad foolish in that she often underestimates the threats she’s walking into). We’re introduced to an alpha male who’s outwardly more committed to things like vengeance and mistakes-of-his-past, but really just waiting for the right female to reach through the layers. There’s a lot of small twists and additional characters, and it’s a fun, quick read… but also, a bit on the forgettable side. I think my first couple Quick books were the most memorable, and since then, though I find her works to always be enjoyable, I also put them down after finishing and barely remember what happened…
Greater Detail (contains quite a few spoilers):
Our main heroine, Phoebe, is seeking vengeance for the death of her former suitor Neil. It’s all a little more convoluted than usual as she never really liked Neil, but Neil vowed to go to the South Seas for her, was killed by pirates, and she’s felt guilty ever since.
(more spoilers below)
Neil’s not actually dead, and not even a good guy. He was actually a bit of a pirate, whose ship was taken over by Gabriel (our actual hero), and the only reason he left England was because he was bribed by Phoebe’s father to leave her along.
And of course…
Gabriel hates Phoebe’s family, because he once tried to elope with Phoebe’s beautiful older sister. He was unsuccessful, was financially ruined and now sees Phoebe (at least initially) as a vessel for his vengeance.
They’re attracted… eventually get married, and that’s when the plot twists and intrigues really notch up.
The actual falling-in-love portion of this story is actually good, as it always is. The heroine is mostly-lovable and only slightly annoying in that she’s fooled by villains/can’t quite make up her mind, and the hero’s struggle is nicely done (though again, he has his overly-controlling moments, like when he sets a runner to follow his wife without telling her, and then is annoyed when she loses him, thinking the runner is a stalker).
It was a fun, quick read, but it was totally reminiscent of other run reads by Quick. It’s revenge/South Seas background/overly reckless female/alpha male pairing in particular reminded me of Scandal which I actually liked a little better. There, they collect dragons instead of rare Arthurian books, and the jilted suitor becomes a poet instead of a pirate… but there are still quite a few similarities…
Comparison to Other Authors/Books:
“Jam-packed with plot” should be Quick’s middle name (she also publishes under Jayne Ann Krentz and Jayne Castle depending on if she’s doing historical/Quick, contemporary/Krentz or futuristic/Castle). Quick’s novels tend to have kind of exaggerated stereotypes (men who are handsome and daring, live outside of society’s rules and are just, in every manner and way, a cut above the rest) and fast-paced plotting (our heroes are always investigating something, going somewhere, action, action, sex, action) that could easily be a made-for-tv-movie somewhere. Her pacing is very fast, her characters tend to spend a bit of time saying things like “bloody hell” and going places like “Dr. Hardstaff’s Museum of the Goddess of Manly Vigor,” but it’s all tongue-in-cheek fun. The mystery/intrigue side plots are similar to what Stephanie Laurens does, with the main difference being that Quick tends to weave the bad guys into the plot (sometimes they even get their own scenes), whereas Laurens’s villains are just as often someone completely new.